Et primo sunt in dicto armario res sequentes copertas de ordura.
Inventories, by definition, are lists of objects. For that reason, they typically offer representations of households that are static and lifeless, affording little insight into the people of the household: their thoughts, behaviors, emotions, all of the human elements that would capture the attention of anyone who could visit in person. Also missing are the sounds and smells, the feel of soft fabrics, the glittering colors of imported ceramics, and all the sensory experiences that one would normally experience in any house. Here and there, one gets a glimmer of the human experience, in the form of object descriptions that linger over a beautiful garment or the presence of birdcages that suggest the presence of a squawking though uninventoried parrot.
When it comes to providing visceral or sensory experiences, one of the most vivid records in the DALME collection is that of an individual known as Gogonetus, a resident of the city of Marseille whose assets were inventoried by one of the law courts in 1412. It is not clear why the inventory was made, nor does the record say anything about who Gogonetus was. The inventory was undertaken on the order of an official known as the viguier, whose served as the local representative for the head of state and, at least nominally, presided over civil and criminal procedures held in court. The impression one gets is that Gogonetus had fallen afoul of the law in some way and that the court was moving to seize his assets. A header on one page referred to "the bedroom in which he was lying," suggesting that Gogonetus was ill or may even have died.
The inventory itself includes an extensive list of items that are typical of the inventories of pawn shops, including many clothing items (women's and men's), two priestly garments, and a pair of ladies purses. Also listed are several items typically found only in Jewish households, including three fasteners for a Jewish woman's cloak; an accessory worn by Jewish women known as a bendar, with five pearls; a Jewish woman's cloak lined with silk; and three books written in Hebrew. The compilers of the inventory also found seven hens and a rooster.
Gogonetus's house included things that he wanted to keep away from prying eyes. This much is made clear by several entries describing the things discovered when the compilers of the inventory entered the upper house. Here, they found four items that had been secreted away in an armoire: the Jewish woman's cloak mentioned above; two women's cotte-hardies, one of which was green; and a bloodred houppelande lined with ruby-red silk. A remarkable entry at the outset of the list notes the following: "To begin with, located in the said armoire were the following things, covered in filth." Gogonetus, it seems, had sought to put the officials off the scent by covering the garments with waste matter or even excrement, depending on how one chooses to translate ordura. Did the waste consist of the sweepings from the kitchen? Dirty rags? Though it is impossible to say, one likes to imagine that the garments had been laid carefully under an old towel or piece of fabric over which were strewn the droppings left by the chickens, conveniently ready-to-hand for a pawnbroker with a guilty conscience.